What’s that saying about how there’s no such thing as a perfect movie, just movies that you choose to love despite their flaws? Well, I’d like to believe the same could be said about movie subscription services — namely, MoviePass, the rapidly expanding six-year-old service that made waves this year after hitting 1 million paying subscribers. I love MoviePass despite its many flaws, and you should too. If you’re not one of those 1 million subscribers, here’s a TL;DR on how it works: You pay a flat fee of $9.95 a month. This grants you admission to one film per day at 91% of theaters across America. You “check in” to your desired film through the MoviePass app and swipe your physical MoviePass card, just as you would with a credit card, at the theater. If you’re one step ahead of me, you’ve already done the math and deduced that this a steal. In major cities, like NYC, you may find yourself spending upwards of $20 on a movie ticket — meaning if you see at least one movie per month, you are already saving money.
So, what’s the catch? When things sound too good to be true, they usually are, right? In the case of MoviePass, it’s a yes and no: No, you will not be forced to upgrade your account to a higher payment plan (or at least not yet!). The $9.95 is very real. The major catch — if you can call it one — is the app’s buggy user interface. This year, the service saw an unprecedented spike in membership, and the app was not built with this many people in mind; many users began reporting system glitches, from the minor to the intrusive (e.g., the app will bring up a blank screen no matter how many times you restart your phone). And of course, there’s a risk in using the app when trying to coordinate group visits to the theater with friends — particularly on a film’s opening weekend and when seats are numbered — because you must be within 100 yards of the theater to check in. Meaning: You might get separated from your group, or the film may sell out before you get there.
Call me crazy, but all that said, I still love MoviePass. And that’s for one major reason: As a moviegoer who enjoys coming to my own conclusions about a movie, uninhibited by reviews, I love the freedom the service gives me to seek out the features that haven’t exactly received unanimous praise — not a fresh tomato, a “critic's pick,” or what have you — without guilt. MoviePass will encourage you to seek out hidden-gem movies, or divisive ones, as it has for me, and that can be a rewarding experience. Sure, you may find yourself yelling at your phone from time to time as you catch that blank screen of death in the lobby of your local theater, but in the end I’m positive you will come around — like I have in my three-year-long turbulent marriage to the service — and choose to love MoviePass, warts and all. —Colin Gorenstein
Get a subscription from MoviePass for $9.95/month.